In a record-breaking hot summer, my youth volunteers have had to adapt their activities so they can entertain the guests but not overheat in their period costumes.
Why do they subject themselves to extra sweat and hard work when they could be spending their summer vacations relaxing on the couch in the AC? I asked my youth this as they gathered together in a lively Youth Lounge during their lunch break.
“Because I didn’t know it was going to be so hot when I signed up!” joked Claire, age 12.
Natalie, age 16, said, “Yeah, it’s hot, but I know people are counting on me here. And it’s fun to work with my friends even in hot weather.”
Sabrina, age 16, added, “And there’s always that one guest who asks great questions and makes it all worth it.” For instance, Sabrina spent one day last week rolling muddies (clay marbles) with guests in the shade of the Prairietown
crossroads. “One young girl stayed with me an hour making muddies. Every 20 minutes or so, she’d say to her grandma, ‘just a couple more.’”
Graces, a toss-and-catch game with a beribboned hoop, is also a low-perspiration choice.
But the most popular hot weather pastimes are water games.
, with its water cannons, is a standard part of any summer 1863 Civil War Journey
visit. My Prairietown youth have their own water games. One of these is a period guessing game in which incorrect answers earn you a thimble of water in the face. Some young ladies improve their posture by walking with cups of water balanced on their heads. This often turns into a team race, where the wet losers are actually the winners.
On 100-degree days, my youth lurk around corners with water buckets, waiting to ambush each other. Guests are often enlisted to join in the fray. During Glorious Fourth, the ultimate water battle broke out between Prairietown and Civil War Journey. Guests joined costumed facilitators on both sides of the timeline as they drilled, armed themselves with water guns and an arsenal of water balloons, and went on the attack.
“We used some period-correct military maneuvers,” said Sabrina. “The White River Guard taught us militia drills and marched us to the covered bridge. Then we lined up in military formation with the front row kneeling. The back row aimed water guns between our shoulders.”
The new recruits also followed commands like, “Fire, hold fire, forward march,” and the most important one at the end of the battle, when everyone was soaked, “Surrender your weapon, solider.” Other period military tactics included the use of a barricade.
“We played until my shoes squelched,” said Sabrina.
Strict historians may point out that there is no way 1836 militia men could fight 1863 Union soldiers. Despite my own worries such an event would rip the time-space continuum, just one look at the guests’ reanimated faces told me the fun and relief from the heat outweighed any historic stretching. And I don’t think there’s any doubt that mischievous children through the centuries have enjoyed having water fights.
As the drought has worsened, the water fights have simply moved to our parched gardens.
“They may trample a flower or two,” said our Prairietown garden specialist, “but the water fights save more plants than they lose.”
Such are the necessary casualties of war.
Posted: 8/6/2012 11:58:16 AM
| with 0 comments
Pam Jackson - Guest Services
This is turning out to be one of the hottest and driest summers Indiana has experienced in decades. Trees are drooping, grass is brown and crunchy, and our local farmers are doing their best to salvage their crops. I have lived in Indiana over twenty years and I’ve never been this hot, and considering I moved here from Texas, that’s saying a lot!
Guest Services is dedicated to ensuring the safety and comfort of Conner Prairie’s visitors. On days when the temperature nears or exceeds 100 degrees, we are offering complimentary bottles of water. We encourage our guests to take frequent breaks from the heat, not over-exert themselves, and to take advantage of opportunities on the historic grounds to cool off. Café on the Common offers shaded, covered seating and ceiling fans to move the air. 1863 Civil War Journey: Raid on Indiana
has a few air-conditioned buildings, plus the water table and water cannons in River Crossing are also there to help cool you and your family. Recently 1836 Prairietown residents have sponsored water gun fights and encouraged guests to get wet when they assist with “chores.”
Here are some common-sense suggestions for visiting an outdoor museum on a disagreeably hot day:
• Arrive early. The grounds open at 10 a.m., and it’s best to take advantage of what Conner Prairie has to offer before the excessive heat arrives in early afternoon.
• Drink lots of water. We hope you will refill your complimentary water bottle frequently from the various locations and water fountains on the grounds.
• Take frequent breaks. Get out of the direct sunlight and visit a cooler area while on the historic grounds. Some suggestions include the Conner Homestead; 1863 Civil War Journey’s Dry Goods Store, River Crossing
, a children’s play area with water tables and water cannons and the historic covered bridge; Café On the Common
; Animal Encounters Barn
Of course, you can always bring the family back inside the air-conditioned comfort of the Welcome Center and enjoy Discovery Station
, Craft Corner
, Science Lab
, and the Conner Prairie Store
One more reminder about this scorching weather. We all know it becomes dangerously hot inside a closed vehicle, and unfortunately our parking lots affords little shade. Service animals are always welcome at Conner Prairie, but please think twice before leaving any animal companions in your vehicle while you visit us. These are the “dog days of summer,” and we want everyone to leave our grounds as happy and exhilarated as when they arrived.
Posted: 7/24/2012 4:00:06 PM
| with 0 comments
For most Hamilton County schools, summer vacation has arrived, while other schools that have opted for the balanced calendar will dismiss by mid-June. Any way you look at it, summer is a magical time for kids, and naturally parents are seeking ways to keep them occupied during all that free time.
Conner Prairie has some exciting new opportunities for families to enjoy this summer. If your children enjoy day camp, we offer lots of activities in varying age groups, so be sure to call Guest Services to sign your child up as soon as possible. Spaces fill quickly, and you don’t want your child to be left out.
As many of you know, Prairietown is being reconfigured and will hold its grand re-opening
the weekend of June 9th and 10th. I have no idea how that will look, but I couldn’t tell you if I knew. I do know that Conner Prairie is famous for their skilled first-person, costumed interpreters, and I’m told that won’t change. Many museums attempt first-person but few measure up to our standards, so if you’re trying to find a summer activity to keep the children busy, come visit us either that opening weekend or any time thereafter. I promise you won’t be disappointed!
On a personal note, I have now retired from my teaching position, so when all you parents breathe a sigh of relief as school reconvenes in August, I’ll still be happily greeting our guests at the ticket desk. I look forward to meeting you and your family when you come for a visit.
Posted: 6/5/2012 4:12:09 PM
| with 0 comments
I had family visiting from out of town in July, so naturally I wanted to bring them to Conner Prairie. It was a hot Sunday afternoon, but we still had a good time as we watched the interpreters come up with innovative ways to keep cool.
While in Prairietown, we observed two of the youth volunteers (children in costumes who play various parts) engaging guests’ children in a water game. It appeared to be a relay of sorts. The only tools required were two buckets of water at each end of a path and tin cups, and the object of the game was to balance a cup of water on the head until it either spilled on the child or was deposited in the bucket at the other end. My family and I watched with amusement, and although lots of water was spilled (which may not have been a bad thing on that blisteringly hot afternoon), both youth volunteers and guests were laughing and having a great time.
When guests come to the ticket desk anticipating an outdoor visit, naturally they inquire about air conditioning.
So here is what we recommend to stay cool yet enjoy your time with us: The climate-controlled Conner Homestead; The Animal Encounters
Barn, “air-conditioned” by huge blowing fans; a tram ride to the 1863 Civil War Journey
, which takes you through a shady wooded area; certain buildings in the 1863 Civil War Journey that are air-conditioned; the water play area in 1863; and of course a hot-air balloon ride, where there is a nice breeze at 350+ feet.
It’s almost August, and soon some local schools will be reconvening. As a teacher, I know that once back in school, the over-riding question will be, “How was your summer?” WAS? Hey, it’s still summer for another six weeks or so! Conner Prairie Interactive History Park has lots of activities still going on during August and September. We hope you’ll buck tradition by checking the 2011 Events Guide at the ticket desk instead of the school schedule, and come out for a fun afternoon or weekend visit. You’ll find ways to keep cool and enjoy yourselves at the same time!
Posted: 7/29/2011 2:03:56 PM
| with 0 comments
Chris Schoepp - Guest Blogger: Camp Counselor
It’s that time of year again! I can already smell the biscuits cooking over the fire and feel the cool pond water splashing in my face...it’s time for summer camp to start!
This will be my 4th season as a counselor at Conner Prairie Summer Day Camp
. I can’t wait to get back and work with hundreds of great new kids--and plenty of old faces, too!
This is not my 4th Conner Prairie camp experience, however. I fell in love with camp when I was 7-years-old and came to Conner Prairie for the first time. After that week I was hooked; I continued attending camp each summer until I was too old to return.
Luckily I’ve been able to relive the fun and nostalgia as a counselor! And so much remains the same: the “Prairie House” headquarters, fishing at the pond, running through the fields and forests playing Capture the Flag and Gold Rush...yet every year there’s something new. These days there’s also canoeing, swimming, and--brand new this summer—the equestrian activity!
But more than any of the other activities offered in adventure camp, I’m looking forward to my sector of campers--the “Village People”! Every week I prepare my group of 12-14 year-olds to work in costume with me in 1836 Prairietown, and on Thursday we work together all day long. It’s so rewarding to see how much the campers enjoy themselves; I think the campers might just have as much fun as the other counselors and I do!
Register your kids for this fun and exciting experience.
Posted: 6/14/2011 3:44:59 PM
| with 0 comments
Why a Soldier Returns to Civil War Days
See, Feel, Smell the Civil War
Our Mother’s Day Tradition is Conner Prairie
A Year in the Life of a Conner Prairie Volunteer